Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

In honor of National Assistive Technology Awareness Month, I’m here to tell you about Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) and how they can be used in everyday life. In fact, you may already use Augmented Reality without even knowing what it is!  

Have you ever used a “filter” to edit your photos on social media? For example, using a filter to put dog ears on your selfie – that’s augmented reality! Have you ever used a furniture shopping app and had the option to “place” the furniture in your own personal living room using your phone’s camera? That’s augmented reality, too! Remember the frenzy around the release of the mobile game, Pokémon Go? Guess what – that’s also augmented reality. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality:

Augmented Reality (AR)

  • Augmented reality uses the real world as its foundation and then adds additional information to it. 
  • Often referred to as “mixed reality”, which is a great way to think about it. Real world + digital elements = mixed reality! 
  • Augmented reality allows you to interact with the world around you.
  • Popular everyday apps that use augmented reality include:  Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook (fun filters on photos and videos), Target (which lets you virtually place furniture in your home), Warby Parker (lets you try on glasses virtually before buying) and many more! 
  • Headsets can be used as well for augmented reality games and apps.
  • Augmented reality costs little to use and is easy to access via smartphones.

Virtual Reality (VR)

  • Unlike augmented reality which uses the real world as its background, virtual reality replaces the real world with a virtual one. 
  • In order to use VR, a head display/headset like the popular Oculus VR headsets or the more simplistic Google Cardboard (which uses a smartphone to create a VR experience) are needed. 
  • Currently, virtual reality is mostly used to create immersive gaming experiences but have a multitude of potential uses.
  • Virtual reality headsets vary in price, design, features and functionality. 
  • The cheapest VR headsets cost around $20-$30 and the most expensive can cost as much as $800. 

Now you may be wondering, Nikita, AR and VR are fun to use but are they practical? I’m here to tell you that yes they are! 


In my everyday life, I am able to use augmented reality to make informed decisions about purchases by using AR to “preview” items (whether it’s glasses on my face or furniture in my home) before buying. AR can also be used to enhance your experiences at museums, exhibits, and other special events. 

VR can be used to “travel” to places you’ve never been. There are VR programs that let people visit museums and other lands. VR can be used for social situations, too. There are VR programs that let you “hang out” in a virtual area to meet with friends. Think of it like a virtual chat room! 

Now, it’s your turn: tell us on our Facebook page how YOU use Augmented or Virtual Reality in your daily life! 

Additional Resources

Here’s a great price comparison guide for Virtual Reality headsets:

Curious about the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset? Find out more here:

Take a look at how exhibits around the world are using Augmented Reality here:

Check out how Augmented Reality is helping veterans manage anxiety: